Heaven in My Heart

By Suzanne Marden, CHS French teacher —

How do I describe what happens to someone so full of life, so full of joy, who exudes bravery and strength when she comes to the end of her life?

It is senseless, yet so profoundly realistic that life is finite and we truly only get to do this one time.

How do I pay tribute to someone who was a cornerstone for many, an integral part of an institution, and the person who helped others feel that life was without limits, that boundaries in space, mind, and heart are worthless and that we are all better than we feel or portray? We have so little to offer and so much to gain when talking with those who are inspiring and courageous, who are righteous rightfully, who fight the good fight and love deeply those who are worthy like a beautiful, intelligent daughter and a brave, charming son and a loving partner in this earthly life and beyond.

How often do we cross paths with greatness not necessarily great in the world mind, but great because she plants seeds in the minds and hearts of all who come across her, and whose seeds, over time, flourish into great ideas, gentle souls, passionate creatures who just want to make their sower proud?

Where do I store the memories of rosé in the rain in France in a room scented by mushrooms and moist potatoes in a cave that has existed for centuries?

Where do I put the great conversations about prominent writers such as Steinbeck and Hemingway because these men inspire us to read, to think, to be literate, to feel something beyond ourselves every time we read their words?

How do I save the endless conversations about our children and their growing up to become beautiful adults who will truly make the world a better place because they are in it, given time to grow through being nurtured lovingly and sometimes with a heavy fist?

How do I hear the giggles, the laughter, the inappropriate jokes about a certain professional basketball player who happens to have funny mannerisms and gorgeous arms and makes us feel girlish and childish and silly?

How do I contain the number of times we solved all the world’s problems, including those in our own lives and those at our workplace, only to realize that we can have more influence and impact on those who are closest to us and through them create a better world?

Where do we hide from the early morning uglies, the natural glow of women of a certain age, the change in our skin, the dysfunction of some very important systems, the comfort of cotton?

How can I not hear you swear like a trucker, be pissed off at injustice, or share the silence of morning?

How can I hold the smiles you gave me, the vision of you in button-up pajamas, and the joy shared amongst friends over wonderful talks in a classroom, in a bar, on a bus, on a plane, in a metro, in a hotel room, in a shared bed, or in wandering around old cities that have seen far more than we can ever imagine?

Life gives us so many challenges and yet, so many gifts. I would not trade this challenge if it meant I had never had the gift of knowing you, Whitney. I will hold you forever in the heaven of my heart and will always be eternally grateful for our time together here on Earth.

Rest well, my friend.